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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Apr 27, 2008
Date: Sun, Oct 19th, 2008
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 2,631.4
Entry Visits: 4,596
Journal Visits: 151,828
Guestbook Views: 84,159
Guestbook Entrys: 155
Final Entry --- Thank-you's and Goodbye
So the trip is over, final finish was just over 2 weeks ago --- hard to believe. Many people consider this sort of trip to be a transforming experience, and it is. I think perhaps less for me than for someone younger and less set in their ways, but it certainly changed me some, and I think for the better. Certainly it changed me physically, but though I’m going to the health club to rebuild my upper body and try to retain some leg strength, I’ve already begun the process of softening up and fattening back up. The trip toughened me mentally somewhat, though previous experiences such as in the Army did a lot of that already.
Not that I'm all that mentally tough, just that in the right circumstances I can toughen to meet certain types of challenges. I think it was really good for me to have to adapt and roll with certain punches along the way. It also helped me to appreciate the wilderness we do have left along the west coast and to put hiking and other trips I've done in the past in a new perspective. We live so much of our lives indoors; it's good to spend a lot of it outdoors, dealing more directly with whatever nature has to offer. I really, really enjoyed meeting all the various thru-hikers and some others that I encountered along the way. I love having the opportunity to gain entry (ideally as an insider) to various special communities of people, and the moving, gypsy thru-hiker community really is that (a community), loose and odd as it is. It was a priviledge to be part of it; the admission is in one way free, but in another way is very dearly bought.
Lots and lots of people to thank. Of course my wife and lifelong friend Goodstart, for her continuous support and understanding, as well as her companionship in three separate stretches of the journey. We both had a little trepidation about doing that, but it turned out wonderfully well, and helped a little to keep us more connected in an extended period of separation. Thanks to my daughters too, particularly Katie who hiked briefly with DiGiorno and I a couple of times from trailheads and helped with driving and facilitating some near-home stuff.
With some concern that I'll inadvertantly omit someone due to just brain lapse, I want to mention and thank those that I walked significant distances with along the trail (in no particularly logical order). Mapman & Robin, J.B., Gopher, Sleepwalker, Milky, Lucky, DiGiorno, Slider, Neighbor Dave & Chickity, Flippy, Gobig, Razor, Cruising. To Truant for giving me my trailname. To many, many other thru-hikers that I met and admire, diverse people like Cuddles, Voyager, Handlebar, Grandpa Kilt, Scott Williamson & Tatoo Joe, Parkbench, Boomer, Suntan, etc etc.
Thanks to Barry for his great help in housing me and taking me to the trailhead at Campo, plus his long-time friendship, encouragement, and really the spark that got me going on this trip. To my sadly now-disceased hiking partner Don who got me out on the trail so often in recent years; I wouldn’t have ended up doing this without his companionship.
To my long-time “questing” buddies --- Loren, Jim, Joe, Steve, both for encouragement and the very tangible and wonderful support at Santiam Pass. To Joe for the major extra effort of kicking my butt and offering to drive me back down to California to truly complete the trail. To Jim for writing a friggin’ song about my journey! (“Northbound”) To Loren for getting Goodstart to the trail at Ashland and then back from Crater Lake, and all his selfless acts of kindness in camp at Santiam Pass. To Steve for taking precious time to be there, running the trail to meet me, giving me spare socks and driving me to get my resupply box. I’d never say it to your faces, but you guys are the best.
Thanks to all the incredibly generous trail angels who helped in various ways, particularly those who invite smelly & grungy strangers into their homes and take care of them so wonderfully, as well as those who gave a ride to dirty hitchhikers with backpacks or provide trail magic of various sorts along the way. Special thanks to Steve and Sue who hauled me to and then back from Bend for a wonderful break at their house.
Thanks also to all the feedback in my guestbook. The interest showed and the positive wishes and good advice was incredible. I’m not normally an emotional hugs-and-touchy-feely-side kind of guy, but I feel like giving all of those that posted in my guestbook a big (if only virtual) hug.
I still don't know exactly what I'm going to do next with my life --- I don't think you get "answers" on a long trail, a person needs data and interaction that's not possible while hiking, and at this point I’m still just enjoying living under a roof again, sleeping in a bed, having a variety of food available 24/7, flush toilets, and showers. But walking a long trail can sort of clear away some fog and set the stage for reevaluating things and putting them in a new perspective. Here's hoping.
Final note (promise): I think that for a reasonably healthy person, doing a long trail like this is a do-able thing. One doesn't have to be superhuman or some kind of extraordinary hiker. It mostly takes a strong enough desire to do it, some planning (many people get by on precious little of that), and a willingness to find ways to keep on walking regardless of whatever the trail throws at them. If you’re inclined to this (or any other fairly big hairy goal), I’d encourage you to go for it. Even if you “fail”, that’s far better than spending your life just thinking about great challenges that you would like to try!
Gadget's Trail Journal
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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